Sometimes compliment from others bring joy to the heart and motivates me to do more. But I fear if this falls in arrogance.
I understand that arrogance is looking down on others. But sometimes the thought that I am better at a certain thing crosses my mind, I try to deny it, but it feels like I am in denial of the truth.
Although I acknowledged that everybody has their own talents. Must the intention of everything we do be sincere and done only for the sake of Allaah?
Some things I did were for a worldly purpose. Jazakallah.
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As everything is from Allah (swt), we must acknowledge our blessing, and we should be grateful, not proud.
Gratefulness and humility are the true qualities of a believing individual.
This is, indeed, a very interesting question. The fact that you have asked this question is indicative of your true desire to seek the right path. Not only in terms of doing the right actions but also in terms of having right intentions which are the roots of the right actions.
Dear sister, as Muslims, we believe in Allah (swt) and the afterlife. For Muslims, the real life essentially begins after death.
The Western world says YOLO, “You Only Live Once,” whereas as Muslims we know that the real life is only after death. This world is merely to test us, and nothing but a passing illusion.
The Prophet Muhammed (saw) said,
“The world is a prison for the believer and Paradise for the disbeliever.” (Tirmidhi)
This is alluding to the actions we are exempt from doing, actions which are clearly not allowed in our religion – one of which is arrogance.
Before we try and avoid feeling arrogant, we must understand why it is not permitted in Islam. In Islam, arrogance is the quality of Iblees.
He is the first one who showed arrogance towards Allah (swt) when Allah (swt) commanded him to prostrate to Adam. Iblees refused and stated, “I am better than him (Adam). You created me from fire, and him You created from clay.” (38:76)
Therefore, any action or intention which emulates Iblees is certainly not desired.
Everything in this life, – fame, wealth, health, and popularity -, do not last too long. However, if a believer intends that all actions are for the purpose of pleasing Allah (swt), in the name of Allah (swt), then the reward is indefinite. A Muslim will be blessed for it in this world and the afterlife.
Hence, we do not necessarily have to say we are doing an action for the sake of Allah (swt). As long as we are doing an action with good intention, Allah (swt) will reward us abundantly.
In addition, compliments can be taken in two ways. One type which motivates us to input our best efforts without feeling arrogant. Another which motivates us and develops arrogance and egoism.
Allah (swt) says in the Quran,
“And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily…” (25: 63)
The word “easily” refers to walking on the earth with humility. Therefore, use the compliments and improve your skills, but let not those compliments make you arrogant. Instead, let those compliments make you thankful.
Allah (swt) addresses arrogance in the Quran several times.
“Assuredly, Allah knows what they conceal and what they declare. Indeed, He does not like the arrogant.” (16:23)
“And do not walk upon the earth proudly. Indeed, you will never tear the earth [apart], and you will never reach the mountains in height.” (17:37)
“And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice…” (31:19)
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Even the Prophet (saw) said,
“Whoever has a mustard seed’s weight of pride (arrogance) in his heart, shall not be admitted into Paradise. And whoever has a mustard seed’s weight of faith in his heart, shall not be admitted into the Fire.” (Tirmidhi)
Being believers and people of the Book of Allah (swt), we can clearly see that Allah (swt) does not like those who are full of themselves and consider themselves above others.
Therefore, we must try to ensure that our hearts are not clothed in pride or arrogance.
Showcasing of talents
However, as Muslims, we are definitely not forbidden from showing our talents to others. We must use our skills that we have been blessed with for the purpose of doing well to others and alleviating their pains and sorrows.
Allah (swt) says in the Quran,
“…And do good as Allah has done good to you…” (28: 77)
The Prophet (saw) said,
“Your smiling in the face of your brother is charity, commanding good and forbidding evil is charity, your giving directions to a man lost in the land is charity for you.
Your seeing for a man with bad sight is a charity for you, your removal of a rock, a thorn or a bone from the road is charity for you. Your pouring what remains from your bucket into the bucket of your brother is charity for you.” (Tirmidhi)
This is a clear sign from Allah (swt) that we must do our part in this world to help others. For this very purpose, Allah (swt) has blessed us with various skills.
We must definitely acknowledge these skills and improve them; however, we must not be proud.
Allah is the source
We need to understand that Allah (swt) is the One who has created everything. When we do everything for the sake of Allah (swt), Allah (swt) will reward us. He will increase His blessings on us and He (swt) will guide us towards a path leading to His Mercy.
However, this does not mean that we must not be thankful for the skills and talents Allah (swt) has blessed us with. Allah (swt) blesses everyone in different ways. Some are blessed with intellect, riches, physical strength, artistic talents, sportiveness, excessive spirituality, etc.
For example, would you like it when someone who possess more than you boast and belittles you? The same should be your approach when you meet someone different than you are.
However, there is no harm if you are stating that you are a better painter than your friend and you should do the painting. But, there is harm if you belittle your friend and insult her. It is possible that you may be a better painter than her, but she may be a better writer than you.
As everything is from Allah (swt), we must acknowledge our blessing and we should be grateful, not proud. Gratefulness and humility are the true qualities of a believing individual. When you start to feel proud, you should convert that feeling into being grateful and thankful.
Therefore, arrogance does not exist in Islam, only gratefulness and thankfulness do.
I realize that this is quite a long answer, but I sincerely hope it is clear enough for you to understand.
May Allah (swt) bless you.
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